Google must stop suggesting searches that lead users to anti-Semitic websites and scrub its search results pages of 76 “highly discriminatory” sites now that a judge has granted a request by Jewish community organization DAIA in Argentina. The court order would also prevent Google from running advertising on these sites.
Until Google receives a copy of the injunction, Google’s search results and the 13 search suggestions in question (some of which lead to holocaust denier type sites) won’t be censored, a Google spokesperson told CNN.
Restricting freedom of speech and censorship is illegal in Argentina, but the country’s constitution also protects people from discrimination. The judge cited previous court cases where “it is permissible to prevent the diffusion of certain publications if they infringe on someone’s personal rights” and concluded that “the terms mentioned (in the lawsuit) as well as the results obtained through ‘suggested searches’ could be described as discriminatory acts and/or at least, incitement and/or encouragement for discrimination.”
“At the end of the day, enlisting companies to become greater gatekeepers on content online really does shrink the range of speech that we can access. … It’s dangerous to try to shut down speech, because you don’t get that kind of robust public debate about what should or should not be acceptable in a democratic society,” said Cynthia Wong, director of the Global Internet Freedom Project, Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington.
Robert Faris, research director for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, also noted, “It seems to reflect a misunderstanding of how the Internet works and how search engines work,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Google has come under fire for serving anti-Semitic results. The most famous case is the Google search for [jew], which brings up Jew Watch as a top three result. On these searches, Google uses the spot usually reserved for AdWords ads to link to their offensive search results explanation, along with the message that Google is “disturbed about these results as well.”